What Is a Fire-Rated Door?

When it comes to fire and smoke control systems, some commercial properties can pose unique safety challenges.

While you need the fire and smoke protection provided by a fire-rated door, you also need a way to maintain the flow of traffic for building occupants to have access to safe exit routes.

Let’s learn more about including smoke and fire curtains in your design to create fire-rated doors that provide safer egress routes in commercial buildings.

Classic Fire-Rated Doors

While some residential homes have them, fire-rated doors are most often found in commercial properties, including facilities like museums, arenas and theaters, airports, hospitals, jails and prisons, and multi-family homes.

In order for most buildings to adhere to International Building Code (IBC) mandates, fire doors are typically located around stairwells and elevator shafts to help prevent smoke and fire from traveling from floor to floor. At a minimum, almost all commercial facilities will have fire-rated elevator doors.

The IBC provides the rules and regulations that are most widely adopted in the United States. These construction and design codes provide fire door regulations to ensure the safety of a building’s occupants.

While classic fire doors can be quite effective when unobstructed and deployed properly, fire and smoke containment systems can often be more complex for commercial buildings. For example, buildings like hospitals will have special considerations for door openings and closings, and high-rise buildings depend on elevator systems as egress routes, so fire and smoke curtains need to be unobstructed and ready to deploy at all times.

With a reputation for being “clunky”, many architects and builders are replacing traditional fire doors with deployable smoke curtains and fire curtains. Installing smoke curtains is a very good alternative for elevator smoke control.

Creating Fire-Rated Doors With Smoke and Fire Curtains

In combination with fire-rated doors used in nearly all commercial buildings (specifically for elevators), Smoke Guard smoke curtains deliver code-compliant smoke and draft opening protection. These units can integrate seamlessly with existing fire protection systems to quickly bring a structure up to code.

Using a smoke and fire curtain has many more advantages over a classic steel fire door when it comes to smoke and fire protection with today’s technology:

  • Increased Safety: Fire curtains cannot be held open with furniture or door stops like traditional fire doors.
  • Invisible Design: Smoke and fire-rated curtains essentially disappear when they are not deployed. They also do not require large amounts of space or structural reinforcement. Because of this, smoke and fire curtains will not impede on the design of your building or obstruct egress routes in the event of an emergency.
  • Customization: These curtains can be created in many sizes and finishes, and smoke and fire ratings can also be customized to fit specific requirements. They can even be installed on interior windows.
  • Virtually Tamper-Proof: Because a fire curtain is completely stowed out of view, it is difficult for patrons to unknowingly tamper with or hinder the performance of them.
  • Improved Traffic Flow: Fire-rated smoke curtains improve traffic flow by not requiring large door frames or enclosures.
  • Gravity-Based Deployment: If power units are cut, these curtains utilize a back-up system, using gravity to deploy.
  • Direct Connection to Complete Fire Management Systems: Deployable fire curtains are a great addition to a comprehensive fire management system including exhaust fans and sprinklers. They can be directly connected to deploy without assistance at the presence of smoke.

Case Study – Ocean Towers

During Santa Monica’s Ocean Towers condominium renovation, the building’s elevator doors and openings needed to be remodeled to become code compliant and meet “S” label requirements.

Instead of removing the existing doors and replacing them with new fire-rated doors and jambs, SG Architectural Specialties recommended having a third party test the compliance of the existing elevator doors and affix a new fire label to them, which satisfied code and compliance concerns.

SG Specialties then consulted with the project architects and the general contractor to design the Smoke Guard M200 smoke gasket units above each hoistway opening to satisfy the “S” label requirements when paired with the re-validated fire-rated elevator doors.

Smoke Guard’s M200 and M400 elevator smoke curtain system provides comprehensive and code-compliant smoke and draft opening protection. These units are easy to install and integrate seamlessly with existing fire protection systems to quickly bring a structure up to code.

Do You Need Fire-Rated Doors?

Having the right type of fire and smoke protection in place helps contain damage, keep occupants safer and minimizes your building’s downtime and need for repairs after a fire.

SG Specialties is the leading provider of smoke- and fire-rated curtains and other life safety products. Contact us to learn more about our complete line of smoke and fire-rated curtains and doors and see how we can help you find the right solutions for safety and comfort in your building.

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